Hemu Aggarwal: Creating Fearlessly After Escaping the Commercial Art Industry

By | 7:30 PM
Today I am pleased to introduce to you artist Hemu Aggarwal, Currently at Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, with mailing address in San Francisco, California, USA. She creates paintings in acrylic on wood that are in the styles of Abstract or Subjective Expressionism. Hemu began creating art at the age of 15 when she met an art teacher in a new school. Here is how she summarizes her artistic journey:
What do you do once you make a painful decision to end your successful career in a busy place like New York and move away to a quiet island in the Caribbean? You paint.

By education, training, and profession I am a graphic designer Having a Master's degree from New York University and working as creative designer on Madison Avenue for 7 years and then running my own creative design firm for over 25 years, now, retired and live in the Dominican Republic and has started to paint after a time gap of 35 years. Yes, I did designing and illustrative work during my business, but that was totally different in nature. Working under pressure of tight deadlines, the focus was to please clients and to keep commercial appeal in mind. Now it is different. To get a glimpse of my work visit my website.

After running a successful creative design firm in New York, USA, I am now retired and spend as much time possible doing Acrylic paintings, traveling and capturing images around this world. I wish I could lock-up every image I see through my eyes because I feel my glance is not fully capturing what I see. There is so much beauty in this world. 

What things inspire you to create art?
abstract colorful painting on wood of a dancing couple THE DANCING PAIR,  Copyright Hemu Aggarwal, 2014
 Copyright Hemu Aggarwal, 2014

It’s hard to explain why I paint or what inspires me. I have a thousand ideas in my head and I am constantly experimenting with different subjects, styles and techniques. I do not know how these ideas come from or from where, they just do. There is so much more out there in the world that I long to explore. Actually, anything and everything around me inspire me and sometimes things that are not around but only appear in my dreams. Sometimes I surprise myself when I am able to transfer these imaginations two-dimensionally.

What are you trying to convey through your art? 

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.   I seek to evoke a positive response in the viewer. The painting should be pleasant to see and should leave a mark in the viewer’s mind. It should be uplifting. It helps me to reduce stress.

Are there other artists who influence you?

I admire many artists but no particular artist or work influences me, at least not consciously.

Tell me about your creative process, from the beginning of a work to its completion:

An answer to this question is a difficult one. Each of my works have gone through different processes. In general, however, a concept comes to my mind and I try to apply this image straight to a prepared wood panel (I have rarely used canvas) where I create various textures using all kinds of tools and instruments. I rarely draw a full image, but prefer to work with colors directly. Many times more than one image overlaps and the final result is very different than the initial idea in my mind-this surprises me and if I like it I am happy with it, otherwise I apply gesso all over and start afresh. Some of my paintings have one or more different paintings underneath. Aesthetics are a major consideration in designing each piece. The focus is to create paintings, which have visual beauty, harmony in colors and interesting composition.

What exposure have you had? 

My work has been displayed at: Worldorf Astoria in New York, N.Y.; The Exposure Award at The Louvre Museum in Paris France; The People’s Choice Vox Populi Award in Paris, France; and Costambar, Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. In process of granting an international license to print one of my photographs on their products to a company in Belgium.

Abstract painting with wave like lines varying red paints SIXTY SHADES OF RED,  Copyright Hemu Aggarwal, 2015
SIXTY SHADES OF RED,  Copyright Hemu Aggarwal, 2015

What is the most unexpected thing that has happened to you because of your art?

By sheer luck, in 1969 I got a job in New York City with a design firm specializing in record album
designs where I reached the level of senior designer and got the opportunity to design many albums of well known artists like: Tom Jones, Montovani, Englebert Humpernickel, Brotherhood of Man, Frijid Pink, one of the last albums of the Beatles, and a single by John Lennon and Yoko Ono titled ‘Radha Krishna Temple.’ This experience enabled me to start my own company, AQ Graphics Inc. in New York, and I continued in this line of work. I designed many Hip-Hop albums including Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five’s “Message” album, The Sugar Hill Gang, Positive Force, Treacherous Three, Quincy Jones and many others. I also designed a series of Collector’s records of the 50s and 60s in which a few famous artists such as Dionne Warwick, Ritchie Valance, Dion, Del Shannon, and the Everly Brothers were included. I also worked extensively on re-make of the entire Chess Records Catalog which included artists such as:  James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Benny Goodman, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, The O’Jays, Etta James, Charlie Parker, Flamingos, Bobby Womack,  etc.

Grey subjective abstract painting on wood SIXTY SHADES OF GREY,  Copyright Hemu Aggarwal, 2015
SIXTY SHADES OF GREY,  Copyright Hemu Aggarwal, 2015

Do you have any regrets in your life as an artist? 

None what-so-ever.

What plans do you have for the future of your art? 

None really, I just want to continue creating new work.

Do you have any advice for artists who are just getting started? 

Do what your heart desires. Be patient. Create fearlessly because fear is one’s worst enemy.

abstract painting acrylic on wood THE GIRL, Copyright Hemu Aggarwal, 1975
 Copyright Hemu Aggarwal, 1975
Share a story from your life that relates to your art.

I was born and grew up in India. Back in the days, higher education in India was looked upon as a ticket to a financially successful future that was important for sons but not for daughters. So boys were expected to go to a school of medicine, engineering, or law. If by any chance my brother had decided to graduate in art, I am sure my parents would have been very upset but were happy with my choice. My interest in the arts was fully supported, encouraged and appreciated by my family. But art was not considered to be a career path and my obsession with art was seen as a hobby – a situation that happily gave me a free hand to do whatever I pleased without interference from the elders.
Luckily, I got an admission into one of the finest art schools of the region, Faculty of Fine Arts at M.S. University of Baroda. But my being female, I had an up-hill battle to sign up for commercial (applied) arts department as girls were not expected to go in commercial line.

Along with applied arts I developed liking for photography and early on I started experimenting with many different aspects of it. I shot wide variety of subjects, experimenting with different lenses, with lights and exposures. I spent hours in darkroom perfecting making prints and creating photograms. My work was included in the national exhibition in India and received honorable mention (no prize!).

lotus blossom painting acrylic wood BIRD OF PARADISE IN PARADISE,  Copyright Hemu Aggarwal, 2015
BIRD OF PARADISE IN PARADISE,  Copyright Hemu Aggarwal, 2015

Is there anything else you would like to share with us? 

Recently I have started to study my new passion which is to create art aligned with Vastu Shastra/Feng Shui: an ancient science with tradition dating back 5000 years (India) and Feng Shui 3000 years (China), Feng means wind and Shui means water. The ancient philosophers knew a lot about the five elements that made the universe. These five elements are: Earth, Water, Fire, Air (wind), and Space. There is an invisible relation between these five elements.

Understanding these five natural sources and coordinating with them in harmony can certainly attract positive energy and assure better health. I am convinced that anything we see around us affects our thinking and how we feel.

How should people find you online….
Profile image of artist Hemu Aggarwal


Twitter: @hemuaggarwal

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hemu.aggarwal

Google+: Hemu Ghia-Aggarwal

Email: hyaggarwal@gmail.com

Older Post Home